Oct 21, 2021

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Osewe: How shooting destroyed my life; I have to wear diapers everyday

I drove to Garden City Mall on Thika Road around 2:00 PM to meet a friend who had told me he had some building materials that I could use for my project in Kisumu. It had been a while since I was on this side of town and there were so many developments ahead. The Garden Estate area I came across was not the same as the last time I saw years ago.

As fate would have it, I branched off Thika Road instead of to the right turn off, turn left and head towards the Roasters Hotel. I saw a familiar car at the turnoff to the Garden Estate. I stepped closer and confirmed that it belonged to a man who owed me money and hadn’t answered my calls. I took a closer look and noticed that he was sitting in the car.

I turned to the car, but he saw me, got out and walked away. I told him to stop and talk to me. In response, he drew a gun and threatened to shoot me. I didn’t know that’s how people handle guns. I am a licensed gun holder and I know guns are not used that way. In any case, I didn’t have a gun at the time. You know, you get into this gun business for the first two … three years and then it gets a nuisance. It is a hassle to walk around with it.

Hands in the air

When he raised the gun and pointed it at me, I raised my hands in the air to prove that I was had no intention of harming him.

But the man was serious. Within a very short time he was aiming and firing the first shot at my chest. Fortunately it didn’t penetrate, but it broke three ribs. I staggered and fell. He fired the second shot in quick succession as I tried to straighten up. The bullet hit my left arm and came out the other side. I lost my strength with that second shot, but tried to crawl back to the car. Then he fired a third shot, this time at my back. The bullet hit my lower back and shattered my spine. Then I heard a fourth shot, which luckily didn’t hit me. He fired four shots at me, three hit the target while the fourth hit a guard standing nearby.

Some people have suggested that he might have shot me because he was having an affair with my wife and I caught you. We’ll get to that in a moment. Stay with me.

After shooting me and the guard, the man quietly drove to the Kasarani Police Station, where he told the officers on duty that he had killed someone. Yes, “killed someone”. He reported that. He was sure that he had killed me. Few of them can survive four bullets after all? Well, three got me and that’s still too much. It’s incredible that I’m still alive today, and I thank God for that.

I didn’t pass out, but I was bleeding profusely and couldn’t even get up. My left hand was broken. I managed to muster up some strength and call for help. Some people rushed to the scene and took me to a nearby AAR hospital, where doctors provided first aid to stop the bleeding, before moving me to Aga Khan University Hospital, where I stayed for two months.

The Bullets that hit my chest and arm didn’t get caught, but the one that hit my back got stuck in the lower part of my spine. When the doctors removed it, they found that it had irreversibly damaged my back, pelvic muscles, and nerves. That’s why I’m busted from the waist down. Even taking a few steps is a struggle.

I used to be a self-sufficient man who ran his business and slowly built his empire. I ran around without worrying about the complexities of the biological miracle that was associated with every step I took. I was an agile man, full of energy and full of dreams. It’s all gone now.

It’s been five years since this man shot me and changed my life terribly. I can’t do anything alone. It takes me over two hours to prepare to go out in the morning. I’ve improvised a lot of things in my house to meet the needs and demands of the new me.

I’m so dependent

Everything from the waist down doesn’t work. I can’t wear shoes, nor can I drive my manual pick-up truck to deliver supplies to my restaurant. I can’t do the simple things that people do for themselves. I am so dependent on other people and that hurts me.

The damage to the pelvic region means that I cannot even urinate naturally and therefore have to use catheters. Worse still, I have to wear adult diapers all the time to avoid defecation. It’s a tough, tough life for me wearing a diaper at my age because I don’t want to soil myself at home or stain my sheets. And doctors tell me that this is a permanent, irreversible condition. Basically, I have to learn to live like this. And I can tell you it’s not easy.

I still go to check-ups and take medication. I’m still in physical therapy, but the recovery window is nearing its end. Everything has a limit, you know.

Aside from ruining my health and my sense of manhood, it has also caused me unspeakable financial worries. I did good business and paid off some of the loans I’d taken out to make a few developments here and there. But then, after spending two months in the hospital and three years in bed at home, I defaulted on repaying the loan. Now the banks are on my case and put my apartment block in South C, Nairobi up for auction. My productivity has dropped to almost 30% of my capacity.

As those close to me may know, 90 to 95% of my work is manual. I move. I push myself. I try to the limit. I am not a boss. I am a doer; the man on the floor cleaning the tables and serving ugali and fish to my customers. This is me. This is the life I chose. Well, as a physically challenged man who loves to be in charge that way, I’m basically done. I will try to get myself up slowly, collect what I can and rebuild my life. And then maybe learn a new style of running.

Tom Oywa Mboya, the man who ruined my life, wasn’t really a friend. Yes, I knew him, but he wasn’t a close friend. He was a tour operator and I hired his services every now and then to get moving. Sometimes he even drove me to my country house in Uyoma. Perhaps that gave some of the impression that we were friends. We did not do it. It was only a business matter.

The reason for the argument at Garden Estate that resulted in my shooting was due to a debt of Sh300,000. At least I knew what I believed then. But then his lawyer went to court and announced to everyone that Mboya might be having an affair with my wife. I don’t know what he was thinking or if it was a conspiracy to somehow turn the tables on me, but when the lawyer uttered those words, I went home and started investigating what was going on behind my back.

I confronted my wife with this. She refuted everything at first, but after a while I discovered that the two were actually having an affair. Now my wife and I are separated. We don’t live together.

So a broken spine, a loose bowel, unpaid loans and a broken marriage. Can it get any worse?

Apparently yes. The hospital bill for the first two months was about 5 million shutters and over time I’ve spent so much more after I ran out of insurance. Since then I have spent over Sh4 million of my own money. That situation just blew my Sh10 million up, I think. I have to pay for the counseling, buy medication and still pay for the equipment I use to urinate. I also have to buy diapers every day.

Learning to walk

They say that the most important thing in such situations is to accept who you are and to look for a new life. At first I lived in denial, now not anymore. At least I can now walk, sometimes without crutches. The first few months were terrible because I couldn’t even sit. I was taught to sit like a baby would be taught to sit. To this day, I still can’t run outdoors without something to hold on to, but hey! I learn to walk like a toddler! Again! I was taught to sit, to sit in a wheelchair for the first year and a half and learn to walk again.

This week, Mboya, my attacker, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. I believe justice has been served, but the sentence could have been longer as I am permanently disabled. I cannot work and I am totally dependent on others. The man has enjoyed his life for the past five years, despite ruining mine like that. I hope the courts won’t appeal him should he appeal. I mean, why should he enjoy his freedom again after the court found him guilty? He wasn’t even remorseful and kept calling me an animal in court. Can someone remorsefully refer to you as an animal, especially after reducing you to a poor man? I am now a man with no family.

And unfortunately this is my life after those three bullets shot through my body.

It will be fine.